Colorado Springs Utilities denies allegations in a lawsuit by WildEarth Guardians but was willing to settle nonetheless, spokeswoman Amy Trinidad said Tuesday.
The New Mexico-based environmental nonprofit had claimed thousands of Clean Air Act violations occurred at the coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant in downtown Colorado Springs. But the group agreed to the settlement, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Denver.
The Colorado Springs City Council approved a lawsuit settlement worth nearly half a million dollars without a public vote. The settlement is a source of anger, confusion and surprise for some council members..
- Pays the local nonprofit Energy Resource Center $275,000 to provide more of its free home energy-efficiency audits for qualifying customers.
- Promises to present options for 100 percent renewable energy portfolios that could be implemented in 2030, 2040 or 2050, which WildEarth Guardians program director Jeremy Nichols deemed a victory. Those options will come as part of the Electric Integrated Resource Plan provided every five years and next due by August 2020.
- Covers $150,000 for WildEarth Guardians' legal costs.
- Promises to install opacity monitoring systems that already were in Utilities' budget as part of its routine equipment replacement. Two systems, costing $43,000 each, will be installed on Drake, as planned, and a third will be installed at the Ray Nixon Power Plant in May for an estimated $40,000, Trinidad said.
Said Nichols: "We're not in this just to punish Utilities or to cause pain. We're in this to achieve an outcome."